TRIPOLI/AMMAN: Jordan’s ambassador to Libya was kidnapped yesterday by gunmen who demanded an Islamist militant be released from a Jordanian jail in exchange for the diplomat’s freedom.
The masked gunmen shot and wounded the driver of Ambassador Fawaz Al Itan’s car as they snatched the diplomat from a street in the capital Tripoli, Libya’s Foreign Ministry said.
Essam Baitelmel, a member of the Libyan team investigating the abduction, said the kidnappers had demanded the release of Mohamed Dersi, a Libyan Islamist militant jailed for life in 2007 for plotting to blow up the main airport in Jordan.
The kidnappers made their demands in a call to the ambassador’s own cellphone, which was left behind in the car after the abduction, Baitelmel said. They said the diplomat was unharmed.
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told parliament the government would take “all necessary measures to protect his life and release him”. But agreeing to the kidnappers’ demand could set a dangerous precedent for Jordan.
“Jordan has currently locked up some of the top global Al Qaeda scholars and jihadists like Mohammad Al Makdisi and Abu Qatada. A deal over Dersi may encourage other jihadists to follow suit, so, very tricky,” a senior Jordanian intelligence official said. Royal Jordanian Airlines suspended flights to Tripoli after the kdinapping.
Kidnappings have become commonplace in Libya. Since the start of the year, five Egyptian diplomats, a Tunisian diplomat and a South Korean trade official have been abducted. Reuters